The Trials of Editing

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could write something – an article, a story, a book – and publish it without any more work?

I don’t know any writers who can safely do that. I imagine there might be some who have grammar and structure so embedded in their brains that it comes naturally. But I don’t think we see our own mistakes. I catch things in others’ writing that I don’t in my own. I’m not exactly sure why. It may be that we are so involved in our own stories that we can’t see the trees for the forest.

I’m planning to publish another book this summer and I’m on my bazillionth edit. After editing it several times myself, I sent it to an agent and she went through it. I sent it to my sister-in-law who is a good editor, sent it chapter by chapter to my critique group where each person found different things to correct, went through it again and found more edits….

Now it’s with my very good editor, The Grammar Granny, and she is finding so much more. Yesterday, she sent me a note telling me to look for “just” in the manuscript and try to get rid of a few. I found 283 occurrences in the book and whittled it down to 66. A replacement wasn’t required for most of them; removing “just” didn’t change the meaning at all. And I wasn’t aware I was doing it. It’s “just” one of those words that “just” disappears in my mind as I read.

Besides using one word too often, another big problem in my writing is commas. I know all the rules but don’t think about them when I write. Going back and finding all the places I added them but shouldn’t, or should have and didn’t, is tedious and difficult. (Did I get them right in that last sentence?)

My last book, The Janus Code, was self-published. It had been edited several time by myself and others. Yet when the first books were printed there were errors. Typos!

I track all my changes in MS Word as I’m editing. After the last edit, I forgot to accept all changes before sending it to CreateSpace. Even though I wasn’t seeing them on my computer or my printed copy because I had it in the “final” view, all the changes showed up as the old AND new versions. If I replaced a word, you could see both the deleted word and the new word. Luckily, I only had 10 copies printed, but I sold some or gave others to friends before someone noticed. The proof was correct, so I never looked at those first copies until a fiend or two pointed out the problem to me.

My advice to all you authors and would-be authors out there: please have another pair of eyes, or several sets of eyes, look over your work before you publish. Read your proof and read your first copies after the proof. You’ll be happy that you did.

Back to my editing….

Hacking Blog Comments

Sorry folks. I’ve shut down my comments for a while. I’ll open them up again when I think the problem is solved. My comments were hacked and I received over 1000 comments in less than 2 days. So I shut down comments, but that didn’t stop them all. Apparently they can get in directly through the comments program. I turned on the Akismet plugin and that appears to have solved the problem. I’ll wait a few days and then allow comments again.

For those of you who want to protect yourselves from the same problem, here is a link to directions on how to set it up on

Short Stories

I don’t usually pick up books of short stories to read. I’m not sure why since I enjoy them. Of course, they come in a variety of flavors.
I’m reading a book of short stories at the moment, Trouble in Mind by Jeffrey Deaver. Some of them are long enough to be novellas. Some feature characters from his mystery/crime novels and some don’t. They are all good reading and each one has a twist in the plot. The first book of short stories I remember reading and enjoying (many, many years ago) was by O. Henry – always a twist at the end.

I’ve read a few other books of short stories recently, mostly books I’m working on, editing and/or formatting for authors to self-publish. Each book is different from the other and all are enjoyable. Seven Days: One Story a Day from the Philippines by Terence Flannery is a combination of truth and fiction from a good storyteller. Some are delightfully funny, others sad. The book is available on Amazon Kindle.

I’m still working on Tom Nelson’s fifth book of stories in his series, Fennimore…as I Remember. His books are collections of articles he has published in the Fennimore Times newspaper about memories of his small hometown. It takes you back to your own small town or even your neighborhood in a city. The latest volume is “coming soon.”
Also in the works is a memoir from Marsha Perlman, which in reality is a group of short stories about events in her life. She has led a very interesting life. The book should be available this summer.

There are other books of short stories that I’ve reviewed previously on this blog. Check them out Post to Post Links II error: No term found with slug "short-stories".

Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett — The Silent History

I stayed up ‘til 4AM a couple of nights ago reading a SF book – The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett. This is soft or social SF. I found the book fascinating for several reasons. One is the fact that it is a collaboration between three authors. Something that caught my attention was that the story was originally written as an iPhone app. Another reason is that they wrote in first person, but each chapter is from a different character’s point of view. You don’t see many books written multiple first person.

An interesting point is that these characters may show up in only one or two chapters or they may continue to appear throughout the book. This made the story a bit difficult to follow when I started reading. I kept thinking, “Did I see this person before?” But that didn’t last when I got into the story.

The plot: Children are born without language capability. It turns out to be a virus and more and more children are born with this condition.

I could get into the story and the characters’ reactions. I could tell you how it relates to the way people today respond to anyone who is “different.” I could tell you how the story progresses. Instead, I’ll let you read this very absorbing story.